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Measured in terms of depravity, insularity and traffic-driven turnover, the culture of /b/ has little precedent. /b/ reads like the inside of a high-school bathroom stall, or an obscene telephone party line, or a blog with no posts and all comments filled with slang that you are too old to understand.

—Mattathias Schwartz[1]

The 4chan logo.

4chan is an infamous image board (a type of social media website). It was created in 2003 in an attempt to create an English version of the Japanese Futaba Channel (2chan) imageboard.[2]

4chan has a fairly unique feature that allows anyone to post anonymously, without even signing up. Although, posters can choose a nickname; and for a more secure identity, they can create a custom “trip-code” for others to easily recognize.

Background and beginnings

The creator, Cristopher Poole (or “moot”), was fifteen when he first booted 4chan in 2003, and intended it to be based around discussions of manga and anime. The first boards were “/a/- Anime General” and “/b/- Anime Random” (we now know /b/ today as merely “/b/- Random”).

With the feature of being able to post anonymously, along with the lack of rules and guidelines in place, the first years of 4chan were filled with chaos. Obscene images and discussions would take place, including child pornography and gore. Boards were created to contain these unpleasant subjects in 2004, “/l/- Lolicon” and “/g/- Guro”, but were taken down. It was also this year when 4chan went down for a few months. When it returned, it added more interest boards such as automobile, weapons, and video games boards. Janitors were put into place to monitor and remove illegal content.


One of the things 4chan is most well-known for is its one-of-a-kind culture. 4chan is not monolithic, but thousands of users that come together to talk. In this anonymous setting, anything can be said with little to no social repercussions or personal responsibility. This allows appalling conversations to take place completely unique to 4chan.

On the whole, 4chan has very conservative views, notwithstanding the users' anarchic tendencies. Violence and violent language are prevalent and normalised. That is to say a violent streak runs through every theme the 4chan community discusses.

Not every poster has participated in the following threads, but all these topics are representative. To follow are typical examples of many members' activities, even if generalised examples are provided.


The image boards called /b/, /pol/, /lgbt/, /v/, /s4s/, /gif/, /soc/, /r9k/, /tv/, and /jp/ are where the majority of the racism is encountered. Nevertheless, it is present throughout almost every board.

Views sympathising with Aryan supremacy, slavery, race-tainting, inferior races, Social Darwinism, genocide, and general mocking of black people can easily be found on any of the aforementioned boards.


/b/, /pol/, /v/, /s/, /hc/, /h/, /u/, /soc/, /mlp/, /r9k/, /tv/, /cgl/, /lgbt/, and /gif/ are where the majority of sexist posts are made. But as with racism, it is found in every board

Topics of rape, male dominance, female incompetence, hatred for feminism, “perfect wives”, and teaching woman how to behave can easily be found on any of the mentioned boards. As well as being acceptable topics on any board.


/b/, /pol/, /s4s/, /wsg/, /fit/, /adv/, /lgbt/, /tv/, and /v/ are highly ableist. However, such sentiments are normalised in almost every other board.

Extreme ableist language is prevalent. You can find discussions of the "antics" of disabled people, mocking, abuse stories, and death wishes.

Pedophilia and loli

The creator, moderators, and janitors of 4chan have created rules against any illegal images, with violators permanently ban.

One recent attempt to protect minors was /soc/ and /b/ removing any teen, "jailbait", or questionable age threads. However, discussion of pedophilia and illustrations has not left the website.

/a/, /b/, /pol/, /h/, /e/, /jp/, /y/, /u/, /cm/, /mlp/, /tv/, and /c/are where pedophilia and loli are commonplace. But again, such content is acceptable on almost all of 4chan.

Discussing pedophilia fantasies, questioning its legality, retelling their personal stories, forming support groups for pedophiles, and venting anger towards people that do not understand their "sexuality" can easily be found on any of the mentioned boards. Posting hentai of loli is permitted, allowing artists' renditions of child porn to be freely available.

Pedobear was an iconic symbol for the pedophile subculture in 2010. But its use as a mascot faded away due to backlash.

Attacks and raids

Most people have heard of 4chan because of their frequent and offensive raids on many websites. These raids can range from annoying trolls from 4chan descending on an online community, to DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks that can bring down a server for a few hours.

Reasons for attacks vary wildly. Sometimes it is to uphold 4chan "morality". Sometimes it is to attack someone they feel has wronged then. Sometimes it is just their idea of fun. Sometimes it is to hurt and bullly as many people as possible.


The online collective known as Anonymous has its roots in 4chan and other anonymous discussion and image boards, such as Something Awful. Initially, they operated out of the PartyVan Wiki, a reference to an FBI raid. They began by hacking websites and doxxing people for fun. However, a subset of the group split off to pursue a nobler goal of upholding people's rights and obtaining justice for those wronged, in their eyes.

Chanology was the first such "do gooder" movement. It was the trolling and mass information rollout on Scientology. That anonymous collective, however, moved from 4chan to a site called Enturbulation.org, as they started to call chanologists "moralfags". Enturbulation shut down and then two sites took its place, Scientology-Exposed.org, which was focused on using scientology lingo and tech to deprogram Scientologists, but ran out of funding and interest, and WhyWeProtest.org, which remains the main active front of chanology. They have taken up other social justice issues since.

Whether or not they area force for good or bad is an open debate.

Social media

Some of the most frequent attacks are targeted towards the, perhaps more gullible, individuals on social media, including Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

Fake accounts are often created (usually with a racist or sexist undertone) and built up to infiltrate groups and cause all sorts of ruckus. These fake accounts can be active undercover for months or even years, creating a convincing persona to fool other users.

Twitter has been a big playing ground for bored 4chan raiders. Some of the more well-known trending hashtags have been #cuttingforbeiber, #boobs4beiber, #gorillapenis, #endfathersday, and #cureformiley, but there are countless others [post them when you find them!].

Tumblr is the most recent target for 4chan attacks. Commonly used tags for fandoms, feminism, LGBT community, and other cute things are flooded with porn and gore. Of course, many people are triggered by this. Such attacks are still ongoing. The ultimate goal of such raids is to cause harm to as many Tumblr users as possible.


Screenshot of /pol/'s thread

Check here to see what raids are happening, or that are in the works!

Support for Officer Wilson - https://www.gofundme.com/SupportOfficerWilson

/pol/ got word of the Go Fund Me fundraiser for Mike Brown (http://www.gofundme.com/justiceformikebrown) and decided to create an opposing fundraiser for the officer that shot Brown- Darren Wilson. They worked to advertise and spread the fundraiser and were incredibly successful, raising over $230,000 so far. Many of the participates of this event are involved to support their ideas of racism, which include that black people are "savages" and "animals" while white people are treated unfairly in today's society. Although not a raid, it is turning out to be one of the most successful events led by 4chan.

#HolocaustLie - With hashtags like #HitlerWasRight trending on Twitter, we have the opportunity of a lifetime. I hope you all realize this.

This is our chance to expose the Holocaust lie. People are ready. Twitter spreads fast.

Please try ones like this, on all of the #Hitler hastags:

>#HitlerWasRight No!!! They invented #HolocaustLie to camouflage their crimes. Learn the truth: http://vimeo.com/29866086

We need to use this #HolocaustLie hashtag and we can see how it trends. It is a counter for us. That Vimeo video was one I found on a Jew web site which said it was the video they feared most.

Make sure to spread stuff like The Greatest Story Never Told and The Last Days of the Big Lie along with Holohoax infographics. Once we expose the Holocaust lie, the entire Jewish narrative comes crashing down.

#FemaleAppropriation - "The divide between feminists and transsexuals who claim to be women has become a point of contention in the SJW community. I propose that we start a hashtag #FemaleAppropriation and use it to flood twitter with instances of MtF transexuals pertending to be women. We try to get the tag to catch on with feminists who fear transexuals as much as they fear men.

>Changing at the gym yesterday and a naked man claiming to be a womyn was in the locker room glaring at me. We dont need men in our safe spaces trying to rape us!!! #FemaleAppropriation"

Keep an eye out! This is apparently a TERF-style raid.


No part of 4chan is completely toxic-free, however there are some boards that are less toxic than others. This is based on tolerance, attitudes and general subject matter within the board. The following boards range from having a little, to having moderately, to having very disturbing cultures.

Least harmful

Boards here generally focus on hobbies and interests that have a lot to do with the real world. Things like: Writing, art, food, fashion, etc. Most of the time, the content on these boards could even be considered family friendly.

/lit/- Literature, /an/- Animals, /fa/- Fashion, /x/- Paranormal, /sci/- Science & Math, /ck/- Food & Cooking, /vp/- Pokemon, /out/- Outdoors, /o/- Auto, /diy/- Do-It-Yourself, /wg/- Wallpapers/General, /g/- Technology, /m/- Mecha, /p/- Photo, /vr/- Retro Games, /3/- 3DCG, /cgl/- Cosplay & EGL, /gd/- Graphic Design, /n/- Transportation, /po/- Papercraft & Origami, /toy/- Toys, /tg/- Traditional Games

Moderately harmful

Content here varies, with some of it being considered "Safe for Work" and some of it being disturbing.

/c/- Anime/Cute, /f/- Flash, /hr/- High Resolution, /k/- Weapons, /vg/- Video Game Generals, /w/- Anime/Wallpapers, /ic/- Artwork/Critique, /s4s/- Shit 4chan Says, /hm/- Handsome Men, /adv/- Advice, /asp/- Alternative Sports, /biz/- Business, /co/- Comics & Cartoons, /fit/- Fitness, /int/- International, /mu/- Music, /sp/- Sports, /trv/- Travel, /tv/- Television & Film, /wsg/- Worksafe Gif, /lgbt/- LGBT, /mlp/- Pony

Very harmful

Content here is almost always pornographic, discriminatory or otherwise disturbing. It is generally advised that if you do find yourself on 4chan to not visit these boards. All boards have an age restriction of 18+, although there is no actual way to verify the viewer is over the age of 18.

/a/- Anime & Manga, /b/- Random, /d/- Hentai/Alternative, /e/- Ecchi, /gif/- Adult Gif, /h/- Hentai, /r/- Request, /s/- Sexy Beautiful Women, /t/- Torrents, /u/- Yuri, /v/- Video Games, /i/- Oekaki, /r9k/- ROBOT 9001, /cm/- Cute Male, /y/- Yaoi, /hc/- Hardcore, /jp/- Otaku Culture, /pol/- Politically Incorrect, /soc/- Cams & Meetups

See also

External links